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HomeAt Home & BeyondSpotting a Scam 101: Gifts Cards, Bitcoin, Urgency and Fear

Spotting a Scam 101: Gifts Cards, Bitcoin, Urgency and Fear

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By Rocco Maglio, Cybersecurity Information Systems Security Professional

Getting entrapped in an online scam is a stressful experience. It is difficult to avoid the online world, but the more knowledge you have about potential entrapments within that world, the more equipped you’ll be, and hopefully, you’ll avoid some stressful situations.

The simplest way to spot an online scam is by the payment that they are asking for. If they are requesting gift cards or Bitcoin, the odds are pretty good that it is a scam. The reason that they asking for this type of payment is that it can be converted to cash relatively easily.

Gift cards do not require a physical card to redeem them. You just need the number. The number is generally activated when you buy the card and can be used anywhere to redeem the card’s value. This means that the gift card can instantly be redeemed anywhere in the world instantly.

Bitcoin is not anonymous. Every purchase is tied to an identity. The trick is that you can have as many identities as you would like. Since each person can have so many identities it makes it much more difficult to identify who is using the bitcoin, so it becomes almost anonymous.

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Checks or credit card payments would allow the victim several days to stop the payment or dispute the charges. Cash payment would require either being able to go near the victim to retrieve the cash or giving the victim a location where the cash can be sent. The requirement to physically meet the victim greatly reduces the area in which you can operate and gives local law enforcement jurisdiction. Mailing the cash to an address means the police will have this information when or if the victim realizes they are being scammed and may arrest the person retrieving the mail.

Recently, my colleague’s grandmother was nearly taken in by a scam. My colleague happened to stop by her house and saw she had thousands of dollars and was about to buy a gift card with that money. Apparently, someone pretending to be the FBI had scared her and gave her a limited time to pay her fine with gift cards.

The tools that the scammers use are urgency and fear. If you are responding out of fear you will not be thinking rationally. If they give you time, you might realize that you are being scammed. Keep a clear mind in

A tipoff that you are being scammed is when someone asks for gift cards or Bitcoin. That request should give you pause. You should check one more time to make sure you are not being scammed.

Rocco Maglio
Rocco Magliohttps://www.roccomaglio.com
Rocco Maglio is a co-founder of the Hernando Sun. He grew up in Brooksville and graduated from Hernando High. He then worked in technology for starting in the early 1990s. He was fascinated by the potential of the Internet even though at the time there were not graphical browsers. He recently earned a Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Cybersecurity.
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